RosUkrEnergo and Naftogaz Ukrainy will establish a joint venture for gas transit by January 20, the Ukrainian Minister of Fuel and Energy told.

"By January 20 we plan to create the joint venture, and by January 25 to sign a contract and close the issue," Ivan Plachkov said.

Plachkov said Ukraine was in process of the preparation of a draft protocol for 2006 that would extend the 2001 gas agreement with Russia, the expiration of which led to a gas dispute that came to a head at the start of this month with Russia turning off supplies to its neighbor.

The Minister said Gazprom delegation arrived in Kyiv yesterday to discuss the issue.

Gazprom spokesperson Sergei Kupriyanov had previously said the Russian-Ukrainian joint enterprise would be set up by February 1, in order to sell natural gas on Ukraine's domestic market, RIA Novosti informed.

Russian energy giant Gazprom and Austrian bank Raiffeisen own RosUkrEnergo.


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